2020 Ford Explorer Platinum: First Drive

Stealth Wealth For The New Decade

Let’s get it out of the way. The 10-inch vertically oriented touchscreen in the 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum not only looks the business, but is arguably is more user-friendly than the rest of the field. The logic was simple: take the layout of any given glowing rectangle that everybody uses everyday, and integrate it safely onto the dashboard of a vehicle. The aesthetic is quite pleasing to the eye, resembling a highly modern home studio system, flanked by a pair of HVAC vents that mimic speakers. It’s a centerpiece that delivers a hip and cozy theme throughout.

The irony here is of course that nobody should be using a mobile device while operating a vehicle, yet touchscreens that mimic them are kosher. Thankfully, steering wheel controls solve most of our concerns. The interior otherwise is a pleasant place to be. The seats are superlative, and the second row isn’t a penalty box, either. In fact, there’s more space inside the Explorer than ever before, and accommodate mobile devices better than pretty much anything else on the market. Phones now have their own slots and cubbies. Even the second row cup holders are squared instead of rounded to fit both juice boxes, and/or a smartphone. And pretty much every occupant has a designated USB port.

It’s quiet – the quietest Explorer ever, actually. And it has competent, and confident levels of power.

On tap is 365 horsepower from Ford’s 3.0L EcoBoost V6 engine sending power to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission, configured with a rotary dial on the center console. If you want more, there’s the 400 hp Ford Explorer ST.

There isn’t a gizmo or do-dad we can think of that the 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum doesn’t possess. Wifi? Check. 360-degree camera? Yes. Lane departure warning? Standard on the base model, in fact. Second-row captain’s chairs that slide fore-aft and recline. There’s even this new thing called “evasive steering assist” that, essentially, helps drivers evade an obstacle on the road more effectively. There’s also various driving modes for towing, fuel economy, performance, and even off-roading. They each come with their own high-resolution sequence that is shown on the digital instrument cluster.

All of this extra content, improved accommodations, heightened horsepower, and smoother ride of course does come at a sturdy premium: $59,345, with room to grow. That’s Range Rover Velar money. Granted, the two vehicles don’t stack up evenly against each other, but the British boulevardier comes with waves more curb appeal.

But here’s the thing, you’re not getting ripped off in the 2020 Ford Explorer. What’s actually happening is that the vehicle is entering a more premium brand space with the MSRP. Yet those experienced enough with luxury marques know that buying the base level is actually a silent cry for help, and that their various packages and equipment offerings will cause that price to quickly skyrocket to levels of instability to the point where the sub-prime mortgage crisis of the 2000’s would blush.

So. Who, then, is the 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum for? As we eluded in the subheading – it’s the stealth wealth individual. It’s the type of person that buys an $85,000 Toyota Land Cruiser because they know what it is, and don’t really care if you do. They know that within that Ford-badged sheetmetal is a private airline with seating for seven, and they’re not trying to let the community know about it.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.

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